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Read all the latest news and announcements from Northern Ireland Opera.

‘White Ribbon’ Anthem launch with Women’s Aid ABCLN and the Ulster Orchestra

On International Women’s Day, Monday 8th March, Women’s Aid ABCLN, Northern Ireland Opera and the Ulster Orchestra will launch ‘White Ribbon’, a collaborative anthem co-written by pianist Ruth McGinley and songwriter Duke Special, reflecting the voices and experience of women affected by domestic abuse.

Guests attending the event will be amongst the first to preview ‘White Ribbon’, following its live recording in the Waterfront Hall with vocalist Jolene O’Hara, Northern Ireland Opera’s Associate Artists and the Ulster Orchestra.

White Ribbon is a global movement to end male violence against women and the ‘White Ribbon’ anthem has been commissioned by Northern Ireland Opera, working jointly with the Ulster Orchestra and Women’s Aid ABCLN, in response to the devastating impact of domestic abuse witnessed at this time.

Ruth McGinley has worked alongside women affected by domestic abuse to create the ‘White Ribbon’ anthem.  She says, “With over 8,000 incidents of domestic abuse reported to the PSNI during lockdown, from April – June 2020, and five domestic homicides in the last year, we believe staying silent on this issue is not an option”.

Ruth’s own personal experience of domestic abuse can be felt in its powerful and uplifting words, and these are amplified by the ‘anthemic’ voices of Jolene and Northern Ireland Opera’s Associate Artists.

Cameron Menzies, Artistic Director of Northern Ireland Opera, says, “We are very proud to have had the opportunity to commission this anthem by Ruth McGinley and Duke Special for Women’s Aid ABCLN, to help highlight the global movement of the White Ribbon campaign. We are delighted that some of our Associate Artists will be performing this new work with Jolene O’Hara, Ruth McGinley and the Ulster Orchestra. We hope it will reach as wide an audience as possible to draw attention to this important campaign.”

The White Ribbon campaign was formed in 1991 by male students in Canada in response to the brutal massacre of 14 female students. In ‘White Ribbon 30 Years’ its goal remains resolute to send out the message that male violence against women, in all its forms, is unacceptable.

Women’s Aid ABCLN encourages groups and individuals across Northern Ireland to take action by signing the White Ribbon Charter, wearing the White Ribbon pin and making the personal pledge to never commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women.

Jonathan Simmance, Animateur with the Ulster Orchestra and Women’s Aid ABCLN’s first male ambassador, says, “Domestic abuse against women is overwhelmingly a male issue; it is perpetrated by men, excuses are made by men, blind eyes are turned by men, solutions are not implemented by men. The White Ribbon campaign was created to redress this, and I am proud to stand with Women’s Aid ABCLN and with so many of my colleagues in the Ulster Orchestra and the Arts community as a whole to achieve change.”

Through the White Ribbon campaign, Women’s Aid ABCLN is empowering business leaders, employers and workforces, community hubs, schools and churches to take a stand against domestic abuse. White Ribbon Co-ordinator, Tahnee McCorry says “It is our hope that the anthem will strike a chord with the general public.”

“We would like to see it ‘sung by from the terraces’, by pop up choirs and in schools and we are calling on bands and musicians of all genres to take the ‘White Ribbon’ anthem to the next level.”

“Our thanks go to Northern Ireland Opera and the Ulster Orchestra for this unique opportunity and also thank co-writers Ruth McGinley and Duke Special, singer Jolene O’Hara, Northern Ireland Opera’s Associate Artists and women who have shared their voices and experience about domestic abuse to create the ‘White Ribbon’ anthem.”

“We welcome your support and invite everyone to join us online on Monday 8th March from 7pm for the 40-minute event to launch the ‘White Ribbon’ anthem and learn more about how we are building a community response to domestic abuse.”

The ‘White Ribbon’ anthem will be available on YouTube and other audio streaming channels and Tahnee says, “We very much hope people will make a donation and support Women’s Aid ABCLN’s work with women and children at this time.”

For more information about the ‘White Ribbon’ anthem you can call Women’s Aid ABCLN on 028 25 632136 or to register and receive your link for the online launch email events@womensaidabcln.org

 

Northern Ireland Opera Studio expands for 2021 and all Audition Details

The Northern Ireland Opera Studio expands its training opportunities with a new cross discipline approach for 2021.

April 2021 will see the launch of two new initiatives for Artists in Northern Ireland.  Northern Ireland Opera will be providing a new NI Opera Studio programme and opportunities for Associate Artists.  We are very excited about our plans for 2021 and look forward to commencing the search for exceptional talent domiciled in the island of Ireland and for the NI Opera Studio programme, aged between the ages of 21 – 35.

The NI Opera Studio is set to expand the scope of its training in 2021.  Northern Ireland Opera understands that it takes an extremely diverse array of highly skilled artists across many specific disciplines to create an opera.  To acknowledge this we believe the NI Opera Studio should also reflect this in relation to the breadth of its training.   Starting in 2021 we will be extending applications to artists (non-singing) who are interested in training opportunities within opera, music theatre, song and recital.   If you are an emerging stage manager, costume or set designer, director, lighting designer, choreographer etc, and you are looking to gain experience and training with the national opera company through the NI Opera Studio please apply now (details below).  Training will be delivered through mentoring, master classes and experience on studio productions with potential for experience on main stage Northern Ireland Opera productions.

The NI Opera Studio will continue to support emerging opera singers, conductors and repetiteurs and will prepare all its members for their future careers. Studio Members and Associate Artists will benefit from individual coaching, master classes with leading professional artists, as well as professional mentoring, career guidance, and language coaching.  Additionally, the Studio members will play an active role in Northern Ireland Opera’s outreach programs and workshops of new commissions.  During the course of their training with the NI Opera Studio and Associate Artists Programme, participants will have the potential to build a long-term professional relationship with Northern Ireland Opera and will be called on at times to fulfil ambassadorial roles for the company.

These positions are paid training positions.

We will also be holding General Auditions in late February or early March 2021: the details that follow have full information for how to apply for both the expanded Studio programme, for our Associate Artist Programme and for our General Auditions.

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GENERAL AND STUDIO AUDITIONS: APPLICATION DETAILS 2021

Closing Date: On or by 29 January 2021

Auditions are to be held in late February or early March 2021. (The confirmation of these dates will be made after the current lockdown period in Northern Ireland to take account of the latest public health restrictions).

 

GENERAL AUDITIONS

Opera Singers

Please present the list of arias you would like to perform for your audition along with an up to date CV. You will be asked to present the aria of your choice first and the panel will then select one from your list.  Arias to be presented in the original languages. Please include one aria as an option that was originally composed for English.

Music Theatre Singers

Please present 5 songs from Music Theatre along with an up to date CV. You will be asked to present a song of your choice first and the panel will then select one from your list.  You will also be required to deliver a monologue of your choice from either a musical or a play.  There will be no dance component for this round of auditions.

For all applications, please send to Lynda Thompson-Spack, Artistic Administrator, Northern Ireland Opera, Great Victoria Street, Belfast BT2 7HR or by email to info@niopera.com with the subject heading identifying which opportunity you are applying for and your name on or by 29th January 2021.

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NI OPERA STUDIO AND ASSOCIATE ARTIST PROGRAMME AUDITIONS

Commencement Date: April 2021

Participants for the NI Opera Studio must be aged between 21 to 35 when the programme starts in April 2021 and domiciled* in the island of Ireland by 29th January 2021. i.e. by the time you apply and for the duration of the programme.

*You are domiciled in the country where you have your permanent home – domicile is distinct from nationality or residence and you can only have one domicile at any given time.

Singers (NI Opera Studio and Associate Artist applicants)

  • Please present 3 operatic arias you would like to perform for your audition along with an up to date CV. One of your arias must be composed by either Mozart or Handel.  You will be asked to present the aria of your choice first and the panel will then select one from your list.  Arias to be presented in the original languages.  Please include one aria originally composed for English as part of your three.
  • Please present one Art Song, Lied, Chanson or Traditional song in the original language.
  • You will be given a short sight singing excerpt to sing on the day.

Please note: you can include non-professional bodies of work in your CV if you are new to the profession.

Repetiteurs (NI Opera Studio)

General Requirements

  • excellent piano skills
  • good working knowledge of operatic, music theatre and concert repertoire
  • experience in working with singers
  • good language skills (german, italian, french)
  • confidence in prima vista accompanying
  • initiative and ability to anticipate in musical and production rehearsals
  • good communication skills
  • flexibility and resilience
  • good time management skills

Please note: you can include non-professional bodies of work in your CV if you are new to the profession.

For audition repertoire, please click the following link: AUDITION REPERTOIRE FOR REPETITEURS

Conductors (NI Opera Studio programme): Please present two recent short filmed examples of your conducting.  These examples can be sent to us via links to platforms such as YouTube or Vimeo.  A one page letter outlining why you would like to work in opera and what you would like to gain from such a training program.  Up to date CV and one professional letter of reference.   Please note: you can include non-professional bodies of work in your CV if you are new to the profession.

NI Opera Studio Practitioner Positions (Non Singing)

In the first case, please apply with an up-to-date CV, letter of interest outlining why you would like to work in opera, a professional reference, what you would like to gain from such a training programme and some examples of your portfolio.  Please note: you can include non-professional bodies of work in your CV if you are new to the profession.

If you are selected for interview, you will be required to present the following:

Directors Please present two short clips of your recent work.  If you do not have any footage, you may present production photographs with notations to explain your concept or production ideas. As part of the interview process you will be asked to have prepared your ideas around Act 1 of Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro.  

Designers (Set, Costume, Lighting):  Please present a design portfolio showing some of your most recent work. As part of your interview process you will be asked to have prepared your ideas around Act 1 of Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro.  Costume Designers, please select two characters of your choice from Act one to focus on.  

Choreographers:  Please present two short clips of your recent work.  If you do not have any footage, you may present production photographs with notations to communicate your concept or choreographic ideas.

Stage Managers:  Please be ready to discuss why you want to work in opera and what you would like to gain from such a training programme.

Please note: if you are a non-singing opera practitioner and you are not listed here please email Northern Ireland Opera to express your interest in our programme.

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For all applications, please send to Lynda Thompson-Spack, Artistic Administrator, Northern Ireland Opera, Great Victoria Street, Belfast BT2 7HR or by email to info@niopera.com with the subject heading identifying which opportunity you are applying for and your name on or by 29th January 2021.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Northern Ireland Opera and Friends present ‘At Home for Christmas’

Northern Ireland Opera and Friends premiere a festive film, ‘At Home for Christmas’ on 16th December at 8pm on our YouTube channel

Following the success of their tribute in May to the NHS and key workers ‘At Home for Heroes’, Northern Ireland Opera has curated a festive film with musical contributions from some of Northern Ireland’s best-loved classical musicians.

The contributors include The Priests with Ruth McGinley, Neil Martin, Michael McHale, Isaac Mason, chorister with the Belfast Children’s Cathedral Choir and a performance by Mukesh Sharma and Daniel Perskawiec on harmonium and sitar. Our Associate Artists, formed in response to the pandemic to bring opera to the community, will perform with David Corr, winner of the Festival of Voice 2020.  ‘At Home for Christmas’ will also feature readings from journalist Anne Hailes and broadcaster Sean Rafferty, our Patron, who hosts the film.

Belfast film company StreetmonkeyTV filmed ‘At Home for Christmas’ for Northern Ireland Opera in Belfast during the current lockdown, in and around Belfast City Hall and in First Church, Belfast. We hope that, following on from our concert in May, ‘At Home for Heroes’ which to date has received nearly 6000 views, we can again bring the joy of music and this time, the festive spirit, to audiences across Northern Ireland. Expect to hear favourite carols, readings, a Christmas piano medley, a chorus from Die Fledermaus, a Sanskrit prayer for peace and some beautiful ‘cello pieces amongst the performances in the film.

Isaac Mason, chorister with the Belfast Cathedral Children’s Choir performing in ‘At Home for Christmas’

‘At Home for Christmas’ will premiere on our YouTube channel, www.youtube.com/northernirelandopera on Wednesday 16th December at 8pm.

Richard Yarr, Creative Executive for this film for Northern Ireland Opera commented: ‘At a time when we feel bereft of so many special events, it’s been a joy to create something memorable alongside great friends. The calibre of the artists involved immediately sets the bar high and they all come in top seasonal form, ready to make a difference.’

The Priests said: ‘We were so pleased to be asked to take part in ‘At Home for Christmas’.  It’s a wonderful privilege to be able to make music and to bring the joy of the season at a time when people need it more than ever.’

 Ciaran Scullion, Head of Music, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said: “At Home For Christmas promises to enchant and delight us all this festive season. Despite the huge difficulties in creating new work presented by the Covid-19 pandemic, Northern Ireland Opera has once again risen to the challenge and produced this special musical collection which is simply unmissable this Christmas. Congratulations to all involved.”

StreetmonkeyTV commented: ‘It was an absolute pleasure working with Northern Ireland Opera, bringing joy and happiness to the people of Northern Ireland and beyond, by making available a wonderful film, showcasing the talent of opera and music this festive season and at the end of a very difficult year.’

Northern Ireland Opera presents a new series of short films, ‘Northern Songs’

Northern Ireland Opera is to release eight short films, featuring songs composed by Northern Irish composers, performed in some of the most beautiful and historic locations around the country by opera singers from that area. The first film will release at 8pm on Thursday October 22nd on our YouTube channel.

Four opera singers, Giselle Allen (Belfast), Doreen Curran (Derry/Londonderry), Carolyn Dobbin (Co. Antrim) and Ben McAteer (Co Down) have worked with Northern Ireland Opera and pianist Ruth McGinley (Derry/Londonderry) to create eight beautiful films directed by Marty Stalker and produced by Causeway Pictures.

Locations include Belfast Castle, Titanic Belfast, Derry Walls, the Peace Bridge, Glenarm Castle, Dunluce Castle, Newcastle and Silent Valley, with composers including Hamilton Harty, Carl Hardebeck, Herbert Hughes and Percy French and familiar songs including ‘Danny Boy’, ‘The Mountains of Mourne’ and ‘Star of the County Down’.

Northern Ireland Opera brings together the talent, beauty and history here by using established and well-known opera singers in their home towns or counties, performing music celebrating their location and filmed in the exceptional landscapes and historic locations in which this country is so rich.  It is hoped that these films will reach a wide audience and showcase to people across this island and beyond the wealth of culture, talent and world-class locations available to visit once the public health crisis has abated. It is planned to visit each county in Northern Ireland to produce further films in 2021, funding allowing.

You can watch ‘Northern Songs’ each Thursday as they release weekly from October 22nd on our YouTube channel, www.youtube.com/northernirelandopera. The first film launches on Thursday 22nd at 8pm and features mezzo-soprano Carolyn Dobbin singing ‘The Blue Hills’ by Hamilton Harty at Dunluce Castle in her home county of Co. Antrim.

Ciaran Scullion, Head of Music, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented, “Northern Songs is a really special initiative from Northern Ireland Opera which beautifully fuses together songs and places throughout Northern Ireland, breathing fresh life into some of our most-treasured songs and performed by some of the region’s most talented singers and musicians.  We are delighted to support Northern Ireland Opera and very much look forward to enjoying these wonderful musical moments in the weeks ahead.”

Naomi Waite, Tourism NI Marketing Director added: “We are delighted to support Northern Ireland Opera as they bring to life some of the most iconic sites across Northern Ireland through the exceptional talent of our local opera singers. These videos immerse viewers in our rich history, culture and awe-inspiring landscapes and showcase the giant voices of our local musicians. We look forward to more opportunities to support the arts community in Northern Ireland, like this project that truly tells the story of our giant spirit.”

Chris Patterson, Global Content Producer, Causeway Pictures said, ‘Causeway Pictures are delighted to have collaborated with Northern Ireland Opera in helping to bring these songs to a wide audience through film, especially since during the current public health crisis, live performance has been restricted.’

Roy Bailie, Chairman of Northern Ireland Opera commented, ‘Combining the beauty of our coastal urban and rural landscapes, the heritage of our buildings and places, with the drama of some of our finest singers, Northern Ireland Opera is proud to present this short series of films, ‘Northern Songs’. As one of Northern Ireland’s leading arts companies, the link with tourism and the economy is critical as we strive to emerge into a post-Covid world and allow people everywhere to share the vivacity and giant spirit of this place.’

Find out more and watch the first film here.

Northern Ireland Opera appoints new Artistic Director

Roy Bailie, Chairman of Northern Ireland Opera has announced that the Company has chosen the award-winning Australian director Cameron Menzies to be the next Artistic Director of the Company.

Cameron Menzies is currently Artistic Director of The Classics Opera for City of Stonnington and Associate Artist/Director for Diva Opera (UK). Previously, he has been engaged by companies including Deutsche Oper, Opera Australia, Victorian Opera, Short Black Opera Company (Australia’s National Indigenous Company), London Philharmonic Orchestra and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre London.

Mr Menzies has been nominated for and received many awards including the Berlin New Music Opera award (2011), Bayreuth Opera Award for Opera Foundation Australia and a Sydney Award in 2016 for the best direction of Pecan Summer Australia’s first Indigenous Opera. His critically acclaimed productions for Diva Opera, which include Lucia di Lammermoor, Don Giovanni,  Die Fledermaus and La Bohème have since 2014, toured extensively in the UK, France, Monte Carlo and The Channel Islands. He has also directed Le Nozze di Figaro in Cape Town for the company, and has worked professionally in Japan and China.

In a career that encompasses opera, theatre, music theatre, cabaret and film-making, Cameron Menzies has also directed the world premiere of several children’s operas and has considerable experience in mentoring and working with emerging artists.

Commenting on his appointment he said

‘I am extremely honoured and thrilled to be joining Northern Ireland Opera as the newly appointed Artistic Director. I wish to thank Chairman, Roy Bailie for the extraordinary opportunity to steer this dynamic and unique company into its next chapter. I look forward to working with the arts community across Ireland and further abroad. Live performance is facing one of its biggest challenges at the moment and I hope to be able to provide as many opportunities as we can with Northern Ireland Opera as we navigate the way ahead.’                          ‘

Roy Bailie, Chairman of Northern Ireland Opera said

‘At the end of an extensive process, with several outstanding candidates, I am delighted to announce the appointment of Cameron Menzies. We welcome him most warmly and look forward to everything he will bring to opera in Northern Ireland and beyond’.

Roisin McDonagh, CEO of The Arts Council of Northern Ireland commented

‘Congratulations to Cameron on this exciting new appointment. We very much look forward to seeing him take Northern Ireland Opera into its next phase, drawing on his impressive international experience to bringing innovative and captivating productions to local audiences’

Patron of Northern Ireland Opera, BBC Radio 3 presenter Sean Rafferty said

‘This is a tremendous appointment for Northern Ireland opera and I am certain that in Cameron Menzies we have found an Artistic Director that will bring new vision and vivacity to this extraordinary company’s work’